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Orthopade. 2014 Apr;43(4):332-8. doi: 10.1007/s00132-013-2168-z.

[Treatment of fractures of the ankle in the elderly].

[Article in German]

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UniversitätsCentrum für Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie, Medizinische Fakultät Carl Gustav Carus, TU Dresden, Fetscherstr. 74, 01307, Dresden, Deutschland,



Osteoporotic fractures of the ankle were observed three times more often in the year 2000 than in the year 1970 and it is predicted that this will increase another three times by the year 2030. The most important predictive values for ankle fractures in the elderly are smoking, multipharmacy and poor mobility.


Conservative treatment only seems to be successful in stable ankle fractures with good surrounding soft tissue. Pronation-abduction (PA) fractures most commonly affect elderly females and 90% of the cases present as the very unstable type III. Unstable fractures, such as PA type III, supination-eversion (SE) and pronation-eversion (PE) fractures type IV can be treated better by 2-stage open reduction internal fixation (ORIF). Because the PA type III fracture is often associated with dorsal dislocation of the foot it is proposed that this type should be classified as type IV, which needs urgent surgery to prevent further soft tissue damage.


Recommended techniques are the K-wire cage or fibula-pro-tibia technique. Locking plates are also preferred for stable fracture fixation. According to the recommended preoperative computed tomography (CT) scan a Volkmann's fracture should be fixed through a posterolateral approach. The additional tibiotarsal internal transfixation should remain for 6-8 weeks after ORIF until it is changed to a protective lower leg cast after wound healing. An underlying osteoporosis should be diagnosed and inpatient treatment of this entity should be initiated by trauma surgeons whereby coordination training is also important.


Due to the increasing number of ankle fractures in the elderly particularly in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, the insufficient diagnostics and therapy of osteoporosis and because the number of these difficult to treat fractures will increase by a factor of 3 by 2030, special surgical techniques and particularly implants are necessary for unstable ankle fractures types PA III, SE IV and PE.

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